IMHO…it should be classified as CLASSICAL. For all practical purposes,opera has followed the musical path of instrument only classical music(the entire genre). Mozart’s “Die Zauberflote” is appropriate to classical music of that time and the “opera” by Arnold Schoenberg,"Moses Und Aron(1932-33) is appropriate for what was going on in the entire genre of “Classical Music.”
In my admittedly limited experience, opera is nearly as much a visual experience as it is an acoustic one. As such, you lose a lot when just listening to an audio recording. Though I’ve never seen a video recording of opera, I don’t imagine it translates particularly well to the screen. More than most genres, for me opera requires a live performance for the full effect.
Is it possible that you are referring to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture? There is the famous recording made by Antal Dorati/ Minneapolis Orchestra/ Mercury Living Presence Label. That will give any headphone or speakers a real workout. Take care of your ears!!!
The challenge is when one gets to know an “opera” so well that you know enough of the libretto that no visual is needed. I will absolutely concur that as I listen to a new opera for me,a video(with English subtitles) is absolutely necessary. However,I have gotten to the point of knowing Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and I can luxuriate and sink into the music. I am getting to that point with Wagner’s entire “Ring of the Nibelungen” and also “Parsifal.” Also with Mozart’s “Die Zauberflote.” The visuals are no longer necessary. But’s it’s a long road to get to that point. Also,I can simply listen to Tchaikovsky’s music-only of :The Nutcracker."
Operas was (initially) what drove me to learn a variety of other languages … saved me from having to memorize the libretto, deal with subtitles, or sit there with a blank stare on my face.
Musically, true opera diverges from the normal definitions of classical music quite significantly. Notably the strong western bias, or presumed influence, is commonly absent. Even classical singing is distinct from opera.
Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is a ballet … not an opera …
It’s a lovely piece of music … but I still think best experience form high seating so one may appreciate not just the composition, and execution of the orchestra, but also the patterns formed by the performers (which you really can’t see unless you’re looking down on them).
Oddly enough, German is my native language but I’ve never really gotten into German language opera. Admittedly, I haven’t tried very hard.
You are correct, I don’t know why I said Rossini? I know, I think I’ll plead the opera conversation that followed shortly after… effect and cause, yeah that’s it.
Allow me to recommend that you don’t, then, start with Wagner’s full Ring Cycle!
15+ hours … live … spread over several days …
Musically and artistically it didn’t seem nearly that long. But my arse disagrees with my other senses’ perception of the passage of time here.
It’s a magnificent work and a stunning achievement. But one that is perhaps easier to enjoy at home … where you can take breaks, a nap, drink, sleep, walk around and generally take one’s own sweet time with it.
Funny you mention these I have two cds of Tchaikovsky 1812 overture . Erich Kunzel Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. I don’t remember that one. I also have a copy of " Night on Bald Mountain " One of then is an old " Telarc " label which was well known label back in '82 . For that matter one of the only cd labels for classical music.
In fact there wasn’t much more than classical musical on cds yet, so I bought classical
WOW…This is great. We are having a great discussion. First of all,I would opine,for purposes of this blog only,that we broaden music categories in the “All Things Music” category. I will be back with more thoughts.
I coincidentally also just listened to the Bernstein/Tourel Kindertotenlider just the other day. Yes, quite wonderful.
I don’t know much about operas. I am a true fan of female singer. The mastery of a voice that’s nothing less than heavenly, is the voice of an opera singer.
The forthcoming Bach 333 box set from DGG looks like a leviathan. 220 CDs, with all of Bach’s works, many in multiple versions (3 sets of the St. Matthew Passion, for instance), reflecting modern practice, historically informed practice, and earlier classic recordings as well to give a well-rounded picture. Not cheap by any means, but it could keep you busy for the rest of your life.
Looks like a worthy followup to their massive Mozart 225 box.
OK. I am away for a few weeks. I owe you all of you some thoughts.
My parents had WQXR on constantly for about a decade.
Thanks Frank, that was a fascinating read. To have to choose one piece of music for these guys must be very difficult. And yourself what would you choose?
I’m so glad to hear from this thread again. It’s been quite an awakening since I started to read this thread. In fact I have been listening to Classical about 90% of the time now. It’s wonderful I have worthy equipment to listen to it.
The layering, soundstage, abilities of all the instruments blending. The genius of the composers is amazing.
I’m sure I sound like some guy celebrating a pink cloud he’s on. I’ll be the 1st to admit how little I know about it, but I can say my ears are absolutely loving it.
I have buying it ever since 1982 when it seemed like Telarc was about the first to offer it commercially on cds.
As I recall it was because there wasn’t too much out there.
Thanks gang for opening my eyes to a new found love for this genre.
I know it sounds crazy but most times now I find myself thinking most genres are nothing short of the beauty of Classical Music.
I am a total novice when it comes to classical music. I have been steadily listening to more and more this past year. It’s great to just sit and relax and listen to the music flow. Though I do like to try a little critical listening with classical as it’s such a rich environment to listen to. I still can’t say I have any favourite composers as yet. I feel like it would take a lifetime to listen to the music that’s out there. Sometimes it’s hard to know which direction to go in too so I just pick stuff off Spotify for the time being and see what I think.